Professor Matthew Williams and Dr Pete Burnap are directors of the ESRC-funded Social Data Science Lab that continues the successful COSMOS programme of work. The Lab forms part of the Data Innovation Research Institute, which will be housed within the new Social Science Research Park at Cardiff University.
Together with colleagues (Dr Luke Sloan and Professor Omer Rana) they recently presented their intriguing findings about the power of pulling large sets of data from social media in front of 150 policymakers, academics and industry experts at the Data Science and Government Conference. The event, organised by the Behavioural Insights Team, looked at how emerging techniques in data science can best be used to support policy agendas in a range of areas.
Many would say there has been a lot of hype about the promise of Big Data and Data Science in government circles in recent years. The Data Science and Government Conference gave one of the first opportunities for presenters, from government and academia, to demonstrate how very large datasets are being put to use in real-world policy contexts to address a range of pressing questions and to introduce new efficiencies. Recently the Cabinet Office developed a set of guidelines for the ethical use of big data in government projects.